WV First Offense DUI Penalties & License Consequences
Charged With Your First DUI? – What To Do Next
For a first offense DUI in WV, State DUI laws pose two immediate legal issues. Your driver’s license can be revoked by the WV DMV if you don’t file an appeal within 30 days of the date of arrest.WV DUI attorney Harley Wagner can file this appeal for you. Call Harley now and he will walk you through the process and explain the filing fee. Someone is available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including all holidays. West Virginia first offense DUI penalties can include jail time, a suspended license, and heavy court fines. Get help now!
You more than likely were charged with a misdemeanor drunk driving or drugged driving charge. A misdemeanor is the lesser of the two possible charges (felony DUI is first), but there are two types of misdemeanors in West VA: aggravated and non-aggravated.
This page, which is all about West Virginia first offense DUI penalties, explains key filing deadlines and options – for both the administrative and criminal legal proceedings in West Virginia — for a person facing a DUI first offense.
In addition, a driver with a high breath alcohol level must be aware of the harsher DUI penalties that can be imposed for an “aggravated DUI WV.” This special “high BAC level” DUI WV offender is sanctioned under DUI laws by the West Virginia Legislature in a way to impact his or her ability to drive, and by adding mandatory jail time as discussed more fully below.
Filing an Immediate Administrative License Appeal With WV DMV
Any top-rated West Virginia DUI lawyer will tell any person charged with a DUI in WV to take care of the administrative license appeal to West Virginia DMV immediately, so that you don’t miss the filing deadline. Missing a filing deadline can have dire consequences on your ability to drive, under West Virginia DUI laws relating to a possible loss of ALL driving privileges.
The best legal advice is to hire a DUI specialist to handle all aspects of GUIDING the path of your DUI through your West Virginia prosecution, on both protecting your driving privileges and trying to get your DUI reduced to reckless driving or some lesser criminal offense.
West Virginia First Offense DUI Penalties Include Both an Administrative License Revocation Action and a Criminal Prosecution
The crime of driving under the influence is treated very harshly by the WV Legislature, who put in place all WV DUI laws. Over 80% of all WV DUI arrests are made for a DUI first offense. This is fortunate, because for that other 20%, the harshest penalties are aimed at repeat offense drunk drivers, as well as any offender with a high blood alcohol content (BAC). This is when hiring a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney becomes critically important.
In addition, the harshest penalties are aimed at drivers who refuse to take the requested implied consent test after being arrested for a DUI WV, and drunken drivers who have a very high alcohol level. Luckily, most people pulled over for suspected DUI in WV are first offenders.
This page explains the more favorable treatment, under West Virginia DUI laws, for a DUI first offense, as well as the new 2016 WV DUI law that takes away a valuable plea alternative for a person with a DUI refusal of the State breath alcohol test.
Should My WV DUI Lawyer Negotiate a “Deal” – or Fight My DUI in WV?
In general, a person arrested for a West Virginia first offense DUI can take two different paths to resolve his or her arrest: Negotiate a WV DUI case to a favorable resolution OR go to trial to try to win your DUI WV case. Only a criminal defense attorney with special expertise in West Virginia DUI laws should be guiding this path, because many nuances and unexpected problems can arise when the correct strategy is not followed and a wrong path is taken by your criminal defense attorney.
This page also will help you review the DUI penalties for a first offense DUI vs. a repeat DUI offender (2nd DUI, DUI 3rd offense, etc.) in WV. You then must decide how certain DUI consequences (like being prevented from driving) can sideline you from working, or being able to obtain future jobs.
Be certain to look closely at the credentials of any criminal lawyer before you make your choice on a DUI lawyer in WV. You need a true DUI specialist like Harley Wagner to be able to expect an excellent outcome in your WV DUI case.
Every West Virginia DUI Arrest Triggers an Administrative License Revocation
Following any WV DUI arrest, an administrative license revocation action is immediately triggered against the arrested driver. The State of West Virginia is seeking a driver’s license revocation against you, for either blowing over the legal limit on the breath alcohol test, or for your REFUSAL to take the requested alcohol breath test when you were arrested for impaired driving.
So, in addition to the DUI criminal arrest, another part of WV DUI law starts an administrative (civil) case at the WV DMV that simply targets your right to drive under West Virginia laws. This other type of DUI law is called an implied consent law.
A DUI Charge in West Virginia Creates Unique Legal Challenges for Each Client, So Get Professional Help From a DUI Specialist
After receipt of an administrative Order of Revocation Notice, you will have two choices on how to handle this notice. One, have your WV DUI Attorney file a timely written objection requesting an administrative hearing in which he or she will contest the WV DMV’s attempt at revoking your driver’s license. Two, take advantage of the WV interlock laws and go directly on interlock for the underlying revocation period and not contest the revocation by requesting an administrative hearing. As your West Virginia DUI lawyer will explain, this option may be very appealing to a person who plans to fight his or her drunk driving charges.
No two clients have the identical “situation” when it comes to strategizing about which path to pursue. Each DUI case requires the criminal defense lawyer’s individual attention. Only an experienced, well-trained West Virginia DUI attorney, skilled in criminal defense, can help you make the right decision on how to handle this order of revocation notice.
For a free, professional case assessment, call The Wagner Law Firm to review your facts with Harley O. Wagner. He is one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Martinsburg, WV, and he also travels statewide to assist ANYONE facing DUI in WV.
Again, timing is very critical to this decision. It is imperative you reach out to consult with a West Virginia attorney who is a DUI specialist immediately after your DUI arrest. Mr. Wagner can be reached by phone to help you better understand your legal rights in West Virginia.
Are DUI Classes Required? How Do I Know When to Start DUI School?
For this specialized field of criminal law, go with an experienced WV lawyer who is a DUI specialist. He or she can and will guide you through this “DUI school” process without error or missing a deadline. West Virginia DUI laws have a DUI Education course component (DUI Safety and Treatment Program) that is a required step of the WV license reinstatement process. This type of DUI class is commonly called “DUI school” or “DUI classes” in other states. Your WV DUI attorney can guide you through this process.
How to Distinguish the DUI Penalties in the Criminal Case from the DUI Consequences in the Administrative Driver’s License Revocation Case
Because driving is a privilege and not a constitutional right, the imposition of an immediate civil loss of your WV driving privileges (if you FAIL TO APPEAL) for a first DUI in WV, while still pursuing driving under the influence criminal charges, is not double jeopardy. This issue was decided by appellate courts across the USA in the 1990s.
The administrative license revocation statute under WV DUI laws is a legal proceeding that only addresses driver’s license revocation, and not the imposition of criminal punishment such as monetary fines, home incarceration, work release, or jail time. Plus, for a first offense DUI, (even if it is an aggravated DUI WV) the WV driver’s license sanctions (administrative and criminal) are less severe than for a second offense DUI in WV and other types of enhanced or repeat offender DUI charges in WV.
Handling a West Virginia DUI: The Criminal Court Process
A DUI arrest in West Virginia also starts the clock for the CRIMINAL court case against you. In about 14 to 21 days after your West Virginia DUI, you will receive, in the mail, your notice of the initial criminal court hearing date, and to which Magistrate in that particular West Virginia County in which your case has been assigned. Once again, if the address on your driver’s license at the time of your WV DUI arrest was NOT up to date, get your WV DUI lawyer to notify the appropriate criminal court officials. For a DUI attorney to be able to effectively assist a person facing a DUI accusation, the criminal lawyer must be kept apprised of the client’s whereabouts.
Municipal Court Special Note: If your case is filed in a municipal city court and not the county magistrate court, an arraignment whereby you get the charge(s) read against you by the municipal court judge, and a plea of not guilty is entered, generally occurs within ten (10) to fourteen (14) days after arrest. The actual initial court hearing appearance will be two to three months following your DUI arrest date.
All arrests will have the CRIMINAL charges processed in the county of your arrest for DUI. The administrative revocation hearing will likely be in a different county, under the West Virginia method of regional DMV case hearings.
This is a criminal court first appearance, as opposed to the administrative court hearing described above, which comes much later in West Virginia. The general purpose of this initial DUI court criminal appearance is for the Magistrate judge to insure that the citizen has received, or will order the State to provide if not yet received, all discovery evidence that the citizen is entitled to receive (e.g. police report, DUI information sheets, breath machine data, any video or audio evidence, blood results/hospital records, etc.)
This notice advises you of a future date, which is usually 45 to 60 days in the future if not longer, when you will be required to come to Court. In the smaller WV counties, this notice and initial hearing date moves a little quicker than in the larger WV counties, which move a little slower due to the volume of WV DUI cases.
Hire Your West Virginia DUI Lawyer Early – Not Last Minute
Long before this date however, you should have hired the best WV DUI lawyer you can find to start investigating your case, file all the necessary discovery requests with the court to protect your interests, and develop a strategy to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your West Virginia DUI case.
Depending on whether your case is a DUI first offense in your lifetime, a DUI refusal, an aggravated DUI, a DUI 2nd offense, or a 3rd DUI in WV or worse, your West Virginia DUI attorney must try to develop a DUI defense to fit your case facts. Timing is critical to this being done. Do not delay in calling a West Virginia DUI attorney immediately after your arrest.
What Are the West Virginia First Offense DUI Penalties?
West Virginia DUI Penalties Include Jail Time or Prison Time for Certain Types of DUI
Most people arrested for a WV DUI are keenly interested in the penalty for DUI if you get convicted. In the United States, no national standard “DUI penalty” exists. The West Virginia Legislature is tasked with enacting DUI penalties for criminal offenses occurring within the borders of West Virginia. So, while the drunk driving laws in England, Germany, Norway, or Brazil are nationwide laws, whenever you are driving in another state, the laws can be drastically different than in your home state.
Hence, the oft-repeated advice about “never take a breath alcohol test” to reveal your alcohol level, or asking to talk to a DUI lawyer before submitting to an implied consent test can be misleading, harmful, and can put you in a jail cell and/or expose you to a harsher WV driver’s license revocation period. No DUI specialist would advise to follow this blanket rule, due to Draconian DUI consequences for doing that, for many DUI arrestees.
To get accurate West Virginia DUI laws information, you must look at DUI penalties in our State, and then learn what type of DUI consequences you face, based upon your prior criminal history for drunk driving. Also, your DUI attorney in WV needs to know how you responded to the question about whether you consented to chemical testing (breathalyzer, blood test, or urine test) after your WV DUI arrest. If you took the DUI breath test, we need to know the alleged numeric result obtained from the West Virginia DUI implied consent test.
Not Every WV Criminal Defense Attorney Is a DUI Specialist
Lack of familiarity with West Virginia DUI laws can be devastating if you make the wrong decision when being arrested. The problems and loss of driving privileges can increase after a West Virginia DUI is pending against you. Your best advice for a driving under the influence cases in West Virginia is to hire a criminal defense attorney who is a DUI specialist. Fewer than 1 in 100 West Virginia attorneys are DUI attorneys who are a DUI specialist. Even a smaller percentage of all WV lawyers have written a book on their legal practice area.
West Virginia DUI lawyer Harley O. Wagner limits his criminal practice to drunk driving defense. The Wagner Law Firm has provided this comprehensive information on West Virginia DUI laws for you to consider, to assist you in making decisions about what to do if pulled over and suspected of drunken driving, and (if arrested) about your WV DUI attorney hiring decision. Don’t let a DUI in WV ruin your career and impact your family.
The various types of DUI first offense charges in West Virginia above also carry varying criminal court penalties as well, many of which carry mandatory jail time at the county jail or state penitentiary time (if convicted) of a felony DUI. For example, under West Virginia laws, an aggravated DUI WV — for a DUI first offense — is triggered by a high breath alcohol test or blood alcohol test result on your implied consent test (0.15 grams percent or greater). A conviction for a DUI first offense, if an aggravated DUI in WV, requires a mandatory minimum 48-hour county jail sentence under our WV DUI laws. A full 24 hours of that jail sentence has to be served in all cases.
What Constitutes an Aggravated DUI WV?
A West Virginia DUI with a breathalyzer reading of 0.15 grams percent of alcohol or more constitutes an aggravated DUI in West Virginia. A numeric BAC level under 0.15 grams percent alcohol, or a DUI refusal, does not mandate jail time for a DUI first offense in WV. So, getting a WV DUI attorney with a high lawyer rating for DUI defense, who knows the court personnel, and who is an expert on West Virginia DUI laws, can make a huge difference in whether you go to jail or not for a first DUI in West Virginia.
Is a DUI a Felony? The Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor DUI
Is a first-time DUI a felony? Except under certain serious, aggravating circumstances as explained below, a first offense DUI is not a felony in West Virginia. Many people arrested for DUI in WV think that every drunk driving arrest is a felony, but fewer than 5% of cases constitute a felony DUI in WV.
But, when certain factors occur in a WV DUI arrest, and serious, outrageous or shocking consequences occur while a drunk driver or drugged driver is operating a vehicle on West Virginia highways, a DUI felony MAY occur. Whether misdemeanor or felony, our DUI lawyers cover both types of WV cases.
How DUI Penalties for DUI Felony Can Be Imposed
West Virginia DUI laws ramp up minimum mandatory punishment, and increase the DUI consequences when an accident involving death or serious bodily injury occurs. Some examples of these types of DUI fact patterns (even a first offense DUI) requiring harsher criminal law punishment and driver’s license punishment are as follows:
- Aggravated DUI due to a high BAC level as described above
- DUI with child in car (also called “child endangerment” in West Virginia)
- DUI with injury to another person or persons
- Fleeing from police or attempting to elude police while impaired (DUI felony)
- Felony DUI death case (in a DUI-related crash causing death of another person or persons).
How an Implied Consent “Refusal” Can Create Harsh DUI WV Consequences for 1st DUI, 2nd DUI, or Third DUI
Refusal to blow into a breath alcohol test device for a first offense creates the potential for a lengthier driver’s license revocation under West Virginia DUI laws than for those who agree to take the State alcohol breath test. For a “refusal” of the WV implied consent test, there is minimum of 45 days versus 15 days and 12 months of interlock installation to follow, versus 120 days on a non-aggravated first or 270 days on an aggravated first.
A SECOND offense implied consent law “refusal” in West Virginia creates a one year “hard” suspension of your WV driver’s license, followed by two years “mandatory” interlock installation on your vehicle (provided you do not take advantage of the WV interlock law and go directly on interlock for the entire 3-year period).
Under WV implied consent law rules, a THIRD time “refusal to blow” within a 10-year period, for a driver with a West Virginia driver’s license, creates a one-year hard suspension followed by 3 years of mandatory interlock installation. This is provided you do not elect to take advantage of the WV Interlock law and go directly onto interlock for the entire 4-year period. Plus, you must choose not to request a hearing on the revocation of your driver’s license, which then eliminates the risk of no license for one whole year followed by 3 years of interlock installation.
In West Virginia, a Conviction for DUI-Drugs Creates Greater Loss of License Impact
Caution: If your WV DUI charge is a DUI Drugs and not a DUI Alcohol, the driver’s license suspension periods are harsh, fixed, and will be a “hard suspension.” This means that no interlock limited driving will be available to you, or any type of work-restricted driving permit. A first offense driving under the influence of drugs conviction requires a 90-day total loss of driving privileges. A second DUI-drugs conviction means a total loss of driving privileges for a full five (5) years. A 3rd DUI drugs conviction in West Virginia is a total loss of all driving privileges for 10 years.
So, for any of the above categories, increased mandatory DUI penalties for a first DUI and the related loss of driving privileges can be part of the DUI consequences of a 1st offense DUI in West Virginia, when these circumstances are proven in the criminal case or in the West Virginia administrative license suspension case.
Every type of DUI first offense charge — misdemeanor or felony — also has mandatory fines and other DUI penalty laws associated with each category of first offense DUI. The same rule of “fixed DUI punishments” applies to a 2nd or 3rd DUI (felony). These repeat offender special cases are discussed on other pages within this website.
In West Virginia, a DUI sentence (for a first offense DUI, 2nd offense DUI, 3rd offense DUI or any subsequent repeat drunk driving offense) is not subject to probation or waiver, meaning that these penalties are mandatory under WV laws, and cannot be excused (by a Judge) from being imposed. All such sentence provisions imposed are mandatory — upon conviction — under West Virginia law, and can only be served via actual incarceration, or (in the alternative) under court sentences of work release or home confinement/electronic monitoring.
Each of these types of driver’s license suspensions for first offense DUI are also eligible for the WV interlock law that allows the accused citizen to immediately install the interlock for the entire time required by WV DUI laws for the underlying suspension period, and not risk any “hard” suspension of your driver’s license should you elect not to contest your administrative suspension by requesting a hearing. Even a first DUI offense causing a death carries a mandatory one year hard suspension of all driving privileges, and two full years of using an ignition interlock device.
Only a well-trained, experienced WV DUI attorney can help you make this decision. This “election” must be made soon after your arrest for a first DUI in West Virginia. Do not delay in calling a WV DUI attorney who is a true DUI specialist. If you research criminal lawyers in Martinsburg, WV, you will find Harley Wagner listed at the top echelons of DUI lawyers in West Virginia. His main office is here, but he travels to every WV county when his clients need his representation.
Your WV DUI Attorney Must Fight for You in Two Separate Courts
Getting arrested for DUI in West Virginia puts your drunk driving arrest in TWO different court proceedings. The Mountaineer State has a two-tiered court system of DUI punishment on a WV DUI case, where the administrative court and the criminal court will have separate dates for your first appearance. These are conducted in different buildings (and often in different counties) under West Virginia DUI laws.
The criminal court proceedings will be in a Courthouse located within the county of your WV DUI arrest. The administrative court will be at the regional DMV office location closest to the county of arrest.
WV DUI lawyer Harley O. Wagner travels to EVERY court in West Virginia for his clients’ administrative license hearings and criminal court cases.
Additionally, the rules and procedures governing the separate legal proceedings are substantially different, but your chances of winning the criminal case are better than the likelihood that your ability to drive on your WV driver’s license won’t be impacted under the civil driver’s license suspension proceedings.
If a Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation Is Imposed, DUI School Is Mandated to Regain Your Driver’s License
If your license is suspended in WV due to a DUI charge, you will be required to enroll and complete the DUI Alcohol Safety Treatment Program (a.k.a. DUI classes), the length of which varies depending on the type of DUI charge you face. The minimum period required is 18 hours (Level I), which comes with a first-offense non-aggravated charge (BAC < .15). Any of the other types of DUI charges means more classes being required.
There are program providers throughout the State of West Virginia, and your WV DUI attorney can provide guidance on the closest provider to you. For out-of-state license holders, a process exists for taking the DUI classes in other states that the WV DMV will honor, provided certain procedural aspects are in place. Your WV DUI attorney can guide you through this DUI school process as well.
Hire the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in WV for your DUI Case
You need a DUI specialist West Virginia criminal defense attorney to guide you and assist you in protecting your right to drive, and saving your driver’s license. By hiring the best WV Lawyer for drunk driving defense, you assure yourself of the best outcome in a WV DUI case.
Harley O. Wagner, a DUI specialist with top attorney ratings among criminal attorneys Martinsburg WV, is the criminal attorney to consult. Obtain a totally FREE lawyer consultation with Harley at the Wagner Law Firm. Let Mr. Wagner guide your path through fighting your pending drunk driving case. To take the stress and sleepless nights off you by calling Harley now. DIAL 304-901-7400. The professional DUI WV case assessment by The Wagner Law Office is FREE and you can shift this burden off your shoulders and onto the shoulders of highly-acclaimed drunk driving attorney Harley Wagner in Martinsburg.